Apple TV+’s first shot at a Korean drama holds a lot of promise, starting with episode 1. Dr. Brain entails a gifted scientist who has developed the technology to sync with another person’s brain and memories. When his family is struck by tragedy, he gets the incentive to use his work to look for the answers. Diving deep into the memories of the dead opens up a new world and a dark secret hidden from him.
Dr. Brain stars Parasite actor Lee Sun-kyun in the lead role as Koh Se-won. Episode 1 of the six-episode K-drama gives backstory into the character, his life, and what leads him to do the unthinkable. The K-drama might be Apple TV+’s first success at a riveting sci-fi thriller as other platforms venture into Korean content.
[Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers about Dr. Brain.]
Se-won was born extraordinary but lacking empathy in ‘Dr. Brain’
Dr. Brain episode 1 does the job is understanding why Se-won is different compared to the other characters. The K-drama’s storyline begins with Se-won as a child, he knew he was always different as he lacked the capabilities to socialize with other children and adults. But, he had a curious mind and always wanted to understand how things worked. His high intellect and barely-there social skills often led him into trouble with teachers. His mother loves her son but cannot properly care for his special needs and walks in front of a truck.
The events serve as a basis for Se-won that soon shifts into adulthood. Se-won’s inquisitive brain has led him to develop the technology to tap into the memories and brains of others to help with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other brain illnesses. Se-won’s intelligence is offset by his lack of feeling or empathy for others.
‘Dr. Brain’ Episode 1 jumpstarts Se-won’s journey to look for answers
Dr. Brain gives Se-won an even deeper backstory with the tragedy that struck his family. Viewers learn he still managed to have an everyday life with a wife and child, but he admits he would never be the husband and father they deserved. When his child suddenly dies in a fire, his wife spirals into grief and refuses to believe their son is dead. Due to Se-won’s lack of empathy, he cannot sympathize or understand his wife.
The fate of his wife is left obscure in the first episode after she is admitted to the hospital after swallowing pills. Se-won then dedicates himself to his work. During a trial run, Se-won discovers the answer to perfect brain sync. One of the subjects must be dead for the sync to occur. He immediately asks for a human trial run but is rejected and takes matters into his own hands. With the help of his partner, he brain syncs with a dead body, and viewers see a montage of what could be murder.
Episode 1 of Dr. Brain takes a dramatic turn that adds an even higher level of intrigue. Se-won is met by a private investigator, Kang-mu (Park Hee-soon). He asks Se-won if he knows a man named Jun-ki (Kim Joo-hun), his employer. Having never heard of the man, Se-won sends him away. The next day, two detectives visit him home to ask the same question. Jun-ki was found murdered and had a connection to Se-won’s wife.
Se-won looks for clues to what really happened to his son
Se-won’s need to know who Jun-ki is leads him to brain sync with his brain. Se-won sees Jun-ki’s memories of his family and his daughter with his son’s cat in a series of memories and flashing images. Se-won also sees images of Jun-ki’s murder. After the sync, Se-won changes.
He starts to engage in conversations with his colleagues and acts friendly. Se-won starts to exhibit the habits and characteristics of the people he has synced with. At the same time, lieutenant Choi Ji-un (Seo Ji-hye) suspects Sewon is hiding something.
On the car ride home, Se-won’s inner monologue explains he is starting to see and feel things he has never felt before. After pulling over, Se-won panics and starts to hallucinate. He sees the figure of a young girl who tells him his son is not dead. Overtaken by the hallucination and perplexion of who the little girl is, Se-won looks for more answers.
Dr. Brain episode 1 reveals Se-won’s wife is in a coma and is taken care of in a medically equipped basement. Se-won’s inner monologue explains the little girl said the same thing his wife did about their son. Needing to understand, Se-won brain syncs with his wife. The events of the episode will have viewers wonder if “memories can be distorted and often misinterpret events. Can you really trust them?” according to Forbes.
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